What are the Requirements for a Virtual Hackathon?

How does one organize a virtual hackathon?

Even though online hackathons require less planning than in-person competitions, you should still allow enough time to plan and organize your event. Here are the steps to organizing a successful virtual hackathon.

1. A theme should be created

Most likely, the theme of your event will be determined by your industry, such as finance, medicine, or entertainment. A specific topic, such as app development or advertising, or a specific question, like “how can we attract business from Generation Z?” or “how do we improve patients’ waiting room experience?” You could choose a fun theme such as “the great outdoors” or “time traveler tools.”

It is important to publicize the general theme so that people are interested, but don’t reveal all the details before the event. By revealing specifics at the start of the online hackathon, teams are forced to specific work in real time and cannot present a pre-made product. Because the nature of the virtual event limits your monitoring abilities, this method assists you in ensuring fairness. 

2. Determine who is eligible to participate.

Choose  to host an internal hackathon where only members of your organization can participate, or an external hackathon where teams from other companies can participate. If you are hosting internally, you will need to decide which teams to enter or challenge.

Since your event is online, you may want to consider limiting participation to citizens of your country or city or encouraging global participation.

3. Set a date

After you’ve worked out the kinks, you can set a date. As previously stated, hackathons are typically held on weekends, but they can also be held on weekdays. The latter may be a better option for internal events, whereas the former may be better for external companies. You should pick a date that is convenient for your company and industry. Keep in mind that you will need to schedule time away from regular work responsibilities so that participants can devote their full attention to it.

4. Choose judges and prizes

You should confirm your judges and decide on prizes before advertising the event. Allow at least a few weeks before the announcement date to correspond with potential judges so that you are not scrambling at the last minute.

5. Publicize the event

Promotion is an essential component of online event planning. You should definitely use social media to generate interest in the event. You can spread the word by posting in relevant online communities. Consider whether you want to use advertisements and industry influencers to raise awareness of your event. Of course, you should promote the event in your website content and through email marketing campaigns. 

6. Keep track of registrations

Online events are more flexible than in-person events, but organisation is still essential. To encourage attendees to take the event seriously, you should use a formal registration process with a firm cutoff. Attendance should ideally be limited so that you can plan effectively.

7. Make time for enjoyment.

One disadvantage of online events is the lack of in-person interaction and networking opportunities. By including virtual social events on your event calendar, you can compensate for a lack of human interaction. Virtual happy hours and remote trivia, for example, can elevate your event by facilitating human contact.

Online hackathons do not require the same equipment as offline hackathons, but you will still need to gather tools to ensure the success of your event. Because virtual hackathons take place entirely online, software is a critical component of the event. The programmes required to host the competition are listed below.

Video conferencing

Virtual conference software is a must-have remote work tool. Written communication is not always the most effective way to convey an idea. Your teams will need to meet in person on occasion. You should provide attendees with access to a suitable video meeting platform so that they can interact with teammates and other guests.

Text-based chatting

Participants in web-based hackathons cannot turn to a teammate to ask a question or share an opinion. Because of the distance, an easy-to-use text-based online communication tool is essential for productivity. Whether you set up a Slack channel, encourage inter-team Gchats, or build dedicated chat rooms, participants should be able to exchange information quickly and easily. Collaboration is essential to the hackathon, and you will need to overcome physical distance and find new ways for teams to exchange ideas.

Digital collaboration tools: 

When it comes to exchanging ideas, digital collaboration tools allow teammates to show rather than tell. Online participants are unable to scribble on the back of a napkin or scrawl across a chalkboard in order to assist teammates in better visualizing an idea or process. Remote participants will require access to digital collaboration tools. Miro, Sketchpad, and Google Jamboard are excellent online whiteboard tools. Project management software such as Asana, Mettl and Trello can also help teams understand their responsibilities and stay on track.

Presentation: 

The presentation portion of any hackathon is the high point. How participants will present finished products is one of the most important aspects to consider for a virtual hackathon. The nature of the product may influence the technology’s medium. A software product, for example, may necessitate user demonstration, whereas physical technology may necessitate video demonstration. Art-based products may benefit from social media or cloud sharing. A live audience may be required for a sales pitch.

Centralized resource hub

A centralized resource hub is an often-overlooked aspect of any virtual event. Event-specific information, such as rules, schedules, FAQs, and contact information, should ideally be easily accessible to attendees. You can create and share an informative GoogleDoc or DropBox folder with attendees so that answers are never more than a few clicks away. In addition to promotional materials such as brand videos and event interviews, you can include additional resources such as tutorials and academic references.

The best hackathon judging criteria sums up itself in 4 most important points which are:

  • If it has a Business Value
  • If it is to make an Impact
  • If it is Realistic  
  • If it is Built Innovatively

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